How To Keep Momentum After Startup Week Fort Collins

As Startup Week Fort Collins nears its epic end, let’s make a plan to keep the momentum into next week and beyond. Whether you got your first taste of coworking, got your mind blown by a musician or felt a much needed boost in motivation as a freelancer, it’s important to not let this enthusiasm dwindle.

Step 1: Outreach

Reach out to everyone in that pile of business cards you collected. Mention something that they said that really resonated with you. Invite them out for a coffee or beer just to talk and get to know one another better.  Ask to take a tour of their company. Mine through the Sched again and pull out company names or people you really enjoyed meeting. Follow them on twitter, like their Facebook pages and read their websites.

Step 2: Digest Your Notes

Did you take as many notes in your awesome FCSW17 notebook as I did? Now is the time to go back through all your notes. Check out the books, blogs or resources that you wrote down. Pull out action items and put them on your list to tackle next week. This post you’re reading right now was actually a footnote in my notebook. Look at me! Taking action!

Step 3: Participate OR Amplify

My key takeaway this week is a new awareness of how many people are doing AMAZING things in our community. Now is the time to participate in those activities by attending meetings or helping to push us forward as a group. If you can’t possibly take on another task, then please be an amplifier. Tell your friends and coworkers about the great progress that is being made. Awareness is the first step to Amazeness! Here are some things I learned about this week:

What are you going to take action on next week? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Top 5 Spring Cleaning Tasks For Busy Entrepreneurs

messy desk

You wouldn’t know it with all that white stuff lying on the ground, but Spring has sprung in Colorado. Though most people are busy organizing closets or washing windows, Spring cleaning doesn’t only happen around the house.

The changing of the season also indicates the start of a new fiscal year, a good time to take stock of your last year of business, and set yourself up for success over the next 12 months. As freelancers and solopreneurs, we thrive on flying by the seat of our pants, but sometimes that makes for a disorganized style of business–and disorganization always costs time and money.

If you’ve been feeling a little chaotic and claustrophobic lately, here are five spring cleanup tasks that will bring order your desk, work flow, and professional life.

Sort and Delete

How many unused files still live on your hard drive? A final edit, software you tested, or CSS files from an old client? Yes, keeping them for a month after the project completes is normal. Keeping them a year after is not. It’s just digital clutter making it harder for you to access active files (and probably slowing down your machine, too). Take a couple of hours to open these archives and send what you don’t need to the recycling bin.

Pro tip! Store client work in the cloud or sign up for an organizational tool like Doo to keep things better organized in the future.

Update your Portfolio

Was 2012 a busy year? Proud of the work you’ve produced? Then it’s time to update your profile. Remember, portfolios are meant to be beautiful, exciting, and show your diversity as a professional. No matter what type of client you’re pitching, you want to be sure they’ll see the talent they’re looking for among examples of past work. Pro tip! Always make sure to ask client permission to include their project in a portfolio (or build that language into the contract).

Unsubscribe to Junk Mail

Throughout the year we sign up for lots of newsletters and email alerts that we don’t really need. Months later we find ourselves slogging through this same junk mail every morning. Reduce the clutter in your inbox by unsubscribing to any automatic emails that you don’t read or utilize on the regular.

Pro tip! Sometimes purchases or registrations for useful services come with unwanted email. Be sure to uncheck the newseltter/special offer box next time you’re signing up for something online.

Financial Facelift

For most entrepreneurs, tax time is a gut check. The IRS tells you in no uncertain terms whether you’re making and setting aside enough of your income. Take a few extra minute with your accountant or tax prep professional to ask questions about what you could do differently in the coming year. Maybe you need to up your savings. Or maybe you just need to up your rates. Thing about where you want to be financially next spring, and set the goals now that will help you get there.

Pro tip! Think about making quarterly tax payments this year if you haven’t been doing so already. Your tax professional can help you estimate how much these should be.

Reinvest in You

You spend thousands of hours doing what’s right for your clients, but when’s the last time you did something nice for your professional self? It’s very important for entrepreneurs to keep learning, experimenting, and discovering. Continually challenging yourself with new ideas and tools keeps your mind sharp, and that’s why clients keep coming back! Sign up for a class, attend a workshop, or get a change of scenery. New environments and people are the chisel’s that can help reveal new opportunities and talents hidden within your community.

Pro tip! Sign up for Cohere’s free day pass and come see what it’s like to work in a great space full of great people striving to be the best at what they do.

Image via MarketMeSuite/Flickr

4 Enlightening Events For Indy Professionals In 2012

Events For Independent Professionals

Happy New Year Coworking Community!

This is a wonderful time when the new year stretches out before us like an untouched canvas. The possibilities of what can be accomplished over the next 12 months seem endless at this moment.

As location-independent professionals, January is a great time to set goals, plan strategies, and identify the opportunities for connection and collaboration that will expand our own networks as well as enrich the larger community.

Even if you’re a regular at your local coworking space, it can be easy to become comfortable with your limited circle of friends and colleagues. But as a freelancer or business owner, it’s essential that you find new ways to challenge yourself, and new people who will expand your mind. Attending events, both inside and outside your chosen industry, is a great way to continue your education while also increasing your friends and followers.

If you’re looking for a few key events to attend this year, here’s a short list of favorites to get you started:

Worldwide #Jellyweek 2012

A “Jelly” is like coworking, only without a dedicated space, time or set of attendees. Often catalysts use the Jelly format to explore their community’s interest in coworking before opening a permanent space. International Jelly Week is a decentralized global event during which independent professionals will come together (in a person’s home, a coffee shop, a public space or an office) to work and network for the day. Topics of discussion include: What important needs can be fulfilled by coworking? How can coworking help solve local and global problems? How can coworkers use the global coworking infrastructure to foster their businesses and projects? Which people and networks aren’t yet connected to the idea of coworking, but should be involved? How can business-oriented networks and NGOs use the coworking infrastructure for their global community building and actions? Learm more at jellyweek.org and on Facebook.

2nd Annual Global Coworking Unconference – Austin, Texas – March 8, 2012

The premier event for coworkers and coworking space owners returns for its second year…bigger and better than ever! This year, the Global Coworking Unconference (GCUC or “juicy” for short) moves to a bigger location and will feature two tracks: an “unconference” track with exceptional peer-to-peer breakouts (great for seasoned coworking space owners) and a more structured conference track (perfect for newer owners and folks who just want to learn more about the movement.) Anyone can jump back and forth between the two tracks throughout the day. The larger keynotes and breaks will bring everyone back together in one large group, making it a cohesive experience for all. Learn more and register here.

International Freelancers Day 2012

International Freelancers Day is the largest FREE online conference exclusively for self-employed service professionals. You’ll learn from some of the world’s most respected professionals and thought leaders in the areas of freelancing, marketing, social media and personal development. They’ll reveal proven and actionable business-building ideas, insights, tactics and strategies that will help take your “business of one” to the next level. International Freelancer’s Day 2011 took place in September and was a huge success. Watch this website for an announcement of this year’s conference.

HOW Design Live 2012 – Boston, Mass., June 21 – 25

Registration is now open for HOW Design Live—not one but four high-energy creative conferences rolled into one. Individual tracks focus on Designers, Project Managers, Creative Freelancers, and Packaging Specialists. Choose one—or all—of the conferences detailed below and produce your most inspired and professionally rewarding creative work ever.

Check out the main web site, HOWDesignLive.com, now updated with full conference information on sessions, workshops, tours, speakers, and networking events. Sign up by March 30 and take advantage of Early-Bird Savings!

Do you know of a stellar event that independent professionals would be crazy to miss? Share it in a comment!

 

Image Credit: Flickr – opensourceway

3 Easy Ways To Continue Your Freelance Education

Happy Monday!

Last week we talked about some reasons why continuing education is essential for freelancers. In a time when technology and modes of communication are changing rapidly, to become complacent in your knowledge is to become instantly outdated.

If you want to create a more robust network of clients and connections, and increase your value (aka your hourly rate), education is the key.

But it’s been a long time since most of us were in school, and I’m definitely not saying that getting another expensive degree is the way to go. So how does a busy freelancer continue his or her education without taking too many hours away from paying gigs?

Learn From Your Peers

For the past six months, Cohere has hosted an almost-weekly schedule of valuable workshops specifically targeted for working freelancers. We affectionately referred to it as the Winter of Learnin’, but high demand means this essential tradition has continued into the summer, and will probably stick around all year. We’ve learned about everything from copyright infringement to SEO strategy, all in the comfort of freelancers we know and experts we trust.

If you’re looking for an easy way to broaden your horizons, see what classes are available at your home coworking space. And if your home space doesn’t have workshops yet, offer to teach the first one. You might be surprised how much you learn when you teach.

Get Certified

Are you a self-taught whiz when it comes to graphic design? Do you love to manage large, complicated projects that involve contractors and vendors all over the world? These skills are worth their weight in gold, but only if your client believe that you truly possess them. Because a resume or online profile is usually the first introduction prospective clients will have to your skill set, the ability to brandish well-respected industry certifications will let them know that you mean business right from the start.

Check out this article on the Top 5 Certifications for Freelancers or this interesting blog post about certifications in various freelance industries from Fresh Books to learn more.

Brush Up On Your Business Skills

Almost everyone starts freelancing because working in the corporate world interfered with the pursuit of their passion. If you’re passionate about your career, you probably don’t need much motivation to continue building your knowledge base. But how skilled are you at owning and operating a business? The administration-side of working for oneself is a stumbling block for many freelancers, and often gets ignored until it’s too late.

Check with your local government or business development agency to see what they offer in the way of classes for new small business owners. Fort Collins, for example, is offering a Power Up Your Business! mini-conference on how to be a great leader within your business, increase visibility of your products and services and save money throughout your operations. It might not all be applicable to freelancing, but hey, it’s $15 and you’ll probably make some valuable connections in the community.

What other ways can freelancers continue their education? Share your ideas in a comment!

Why Continuing Education Is Essential For Freelancers

Lots of people hear the word “freelance” and interpret it to mean “between jobs.” While it might be true that some aspects of a freelance job are less concrete than punching a clock in an office building every day (like location or regularity of paycheck) many freelancers feel more secure with a diverse array of clients and skills to choose from.

The key to sustaining freelance success is continuing your education, both in your chosen field and as a general businessperson. If it’s been a while since you’ve learned something new, here are reasons to think about whipping those brain cells back into shape.

1. What’s New Is Already Old

Technology advances at the speed of light. What’s cutting-edge one day is obsolete the next. While it might not happen quite as quickly, business practices are changing too. Although you might be comfortable in your knowledge chances are there are new and more efficient ways of approaching client needs that you haven’t heard about yet. The key to attracting and retaining the best clients is your ability to offer professional expertise in the most advanced areas of your field.

2. Better Education = More Pay

“Worker skills must evolve to meet the demands of an increasingly globalized, technology-driven workplace,” found a 2007 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Even in a recession, large businesses realize that investing in personal and professional development makes sense. You’re a business too. If you want to compete with the big boys and increase your hourly fee, maintaining a current level of education and certification is a no-brainer.

3. It Keeps You Connected

Taking a workshop, signing up for a seminar, or attending an industry conference are all easy ways to expand your professional network as well as your knowledge base. If you want to be tapped in to the pulse of your profession, you need to be talking, sharing, and learning from other freelancers and industry leaders. Armed with the collaborative skills you’ve learned from coworking, these individuals could become your future clients and business partners.

>>Next Week: Easy Ways To Continue Your Freelance Education

Why Freelance Jobs Are More Secure Than Office Jobs

Lots of people think that freelancing is something you do when you can’t find a real job. Freelancers know, however, that there’s nothing more real than being the CEO, COO, and CFO of a small business all at once.

Some people say they could never live without the security of a traditional job. And I say, what’s so secure about it? What’s so great about living with the fear that an HR person you’ve never met will decide your job’s not necessary any more? Or knowing that an executive in Europe could decide that the U.S. branch isn’t as profitable as it should be, and close it down tomorrow?

Here are three reasons why a room-full of independent professionals bring more stability to the local economy than a moderately-sized corporation.

 

Freelancers Are Dynamic

Saying that small businesses are more nimble than traditional companies is an understatement. In the time it takes three corporate committees to decide to begin to investigate a creative opportunity, the freelancer will decide, bring in other freelancers to collaborate, and take action to make it a reality. Freelancers are used to rolling with the punches. When business as usual stops working, they can try something completely new tomorrow, not next year.

Freelancers Have Low Overhead

Running a brick and mortar business is expensive. There are utility bills to pay, equipment to buy, and insurance to keep current. If profit margins fall low enough, these costly necessities can drive a company out of business in a matter of weeks. Freelancers on the other hand, have almost no overhead (especially if they cowork). Also, they can eat ramen noodles when the going gets tough.

Freelancers Can Do More Than One Thing At Once

Which has a better chance of surviving a down economy: a large company that does or makes one thing, or a sole proprieter that knows how to do five things? Freelancers are in it for themselves, which means they stay educated, are constantly expanding their networks, and work hard to acquire more skills that will make them competitive in their field. The days of depending on one skill or product to attract revenue are over. Companies are struggling to diversify, while the freelancer depends on diversity to stay in business.

Because of the reasons above (and many more) freelancers are both happy and stable in their work. They can’t get fired, or downsized or restructured. They don’t depend on the wisdom of invisible executives for their livelihood. They don’t worry about losing a big client because they know how find another one.

While the rest of the world gets into the unemployment line, freelancers keep paying the mortgage, shopping in local stores, feeding their kids, and paying taxes. They continue to contribute through both the bad times and the good, unlike a big company, which will probably move its business to Oklahoma City when the money runs out.

Why Are You Glad To Be  A Freelancer? Give thanks in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – Patrick Denker

Our blog is pretty awesome.
What are you looking for?

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay in touch with news and events from the Cohere community with a monthly subscription to our newsletter.

The only spam we like is fried. We assume you feel the same.